Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Surface water changes - update

Today is the deadline for responses to the comedy proposal from Defra regarding the proposed amendment to s106 of Water Industry Act to remove the right to make connections to existing surface water drains and sewers, and to require all new paving to front gardens to be permeable. As many readers will be aware, this proposal has caused a great deal of concern amongst contractors, some of whom have chosen to vent their spleen in The Brew Cabin.

Residential paving contractors have no unified voice to represent their views, so over the past two months, I've been canvassing opinion via email and phone, as well as following the various discussions that have developed in The Brew Cabin and have attempted to summarise the points made and opinions held in a single document which I have just forwarded to Defra for consideration.

Anyone wanting to read my submission can download a copy from here. It's a Word document, so should be readily accessible by most, if not all, interested parties.

Obviously, this is a story that is bound to unfold over the coming months and I hope to keep up-to-date with what is being said and done, but, up to now, the opinion of the small residential paving contractor, so-called White Van Man, has been missing from the considerations. Indeed, you only have to read the worryingly partial Impact Assessment document to get a feel of how uninformed and naive regarding our trade this project has been to date.

I'd welcome thoughts and comments on what I've written in the response document, either here on the blog, in The Brew Cabin, by email or by phone. The more information and opinion from smaller contractors that I have, the better I can present those opinions to the consultation.

This proposal directly affects our trade. I can't think of any other industry that would be so blithely ignored when considering legislation that could devastate their livelihood. If we don't speak up and present our case, we can't complain when the politicians, the academics, the Whitehall mandarins and all the usual suits impose THEIR will upon us.

Monday, April 28, 2008


A little bit of Liverpool in South America

The onset of Spring has coincided with a couple of time-consuming projects that has resulted in me working every single day for the past 3 months, with no parole to play in my garden, and no opportunity to update this blog. The mad panic generated by DEFRA's part-baked ideas on mandatory permeable paving has resulted in me spending at least half of every day talking to worried contractors and other interested parties, and simultaneously preparing a response that will be submitted to DEFRA later today. On top of that, the HSE project to require the use of dust suppression when cutting concrete paving units has reached a climax, with the official launch taking place next week. I've been involved in creating a DVD aimed at site workers and while it's been incredibly enjoyable and eminently worthy, it's taken up more time than I anticipated.

However, a Chilean correspondent has been emailing to tell me about work taking place in Valparaiso, where much of the paving that was originally imported from Liverpool, is now being re-laid.

Luis Chirino-Galvez, known as Lucho, publishes a series of blogs that comment on cultural and geological events in his home town, Valparaiso, which is located on the Pacific coast of central Chile, South America. He's taken a real interest in the setts that are being lifted and relaid, and for anyone interested in what would be termed "Heritage Paving" in north-western Europe, will enjoy Lucho's photos and commentary. He's been posting updates throughout February and March ....

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